• Here’s a tip: if you ever find yourself going under the knife, don’t google “cases of consciousness while under anaethesia” the night before, if you want to get any sleep. (AAP)Source: AAP
A year on from his vasectomy, Ian Rose reflects on the tie that binds, and wonders what happened to the mystery semen-sample.
By
Ian Rose

3 Feb 2016 - 9:46 AM  UPDATED 3 Feb 2016 - 10:04 AM

Let’s get this straight: my partner did not coerce me into having a vasectomy.

It was a decision we reached together. She even has a video clip on her phone, taken on the eve of the procedure, in which I testify to this fact, ashen-faced and wearing the thousand-yard stare of a condemned man. She took it in case the matter should become a bone of contention (if you’ll excuse the pun) in years to come.

We were lucky enough to have produced two healthy if somewhat deranged children already, and had reached the conclusion, following an unexpected third pregnancy that ended in the sadness of early miscarriage, that we didn’t have the energy, finances or sanity to have any more.

So I put myself on the waiting list at the local clinic, and immediately got my martyr on. I wore my imminent personal sacrifice like a badge of honour, steering conversation its way at social gatherings.

“Yes, that’s right. I figure it’s time to, you know, do my bit. I mean, she put her body through labour and breastfeeding, mastitis, all of that - this is really the least I can do.”

Mums at barbecues would murmur their approval and gaze at me with freshly appraising eyes, while their husbands looked on uneasily.

Mums at barbecues would murmur their approval and gaze at me with freshly appraising eyes, while their husbands looked on uneasily. Meanwhile, my partner lavished me with tender attentions, eyes shining with gratitude. Magnanimous, selfless, mature - goldenballs, that was me.

I reached the front of the queue in no time at all, or at least far more quickly than I’d hoped. All at once a cheerful urologist was telling me how easy it was all going to be while his fingers probed my scrotum. Just the tiniest of incisions either side of here, and then he’d have the old deferens ducts severed and sealed in a jiffy. (These carry the actual sperm into the urethra, where they mix with the secretions from various other glands and vesicles that make up the bulk of a fellow’s mess.)

Looking into the doctor’s eyes as he gently cupped me, I realised that this was actually going to happen. Having talked the talk I would now have to walk the vasectomy walk.

The month that followed the initial consultation saw me retreat into an epic and fretful sulk, muttering darkly about feeling pressured, to my partner’s indignation - hence that video statement.

As V-Day drew near, I sought testimonials from those who’d been snipped before me. Some reassured me it would be a cinch; that they themselves had been back at work or completing triathlons and other ridiculously virile tasks mere hours after getting done. Others described the agony of purple, elephantine nethers with more relish than seemed fitting.

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I chose a general anaesthetic. I couldn’t for the life of me think why anyone would choose local. I mean, it’s bad enough at the dentist’s, let alone when genitals are involved. No, it would be oblivion all the way for me, thanks.

Here’s a tip: if you ever find yourself going under the knife, don’t google “cases of consciousness while under anaethesia” the night before, if you want to get any sleep.

I needn’t have worried. I remember getting changed into the dignity-sapping combo of white, backless hospital gown and cherry-red shower-cap, then lying on a gurney and bantering bravely with the guy who was putting me under, whose face I never saw, and then...nothing.

The swelling took a week to subside, but wasn’t too incommodious. The two days I got signed off from work, and the coincident reprieve from childcare made a holiday of the aftermath. While those initial visits to the toilet were somewhat harrowing, all-round functionality soon resumed at pre-V levels, though any hopes of upgrade sadly proved unfounded.

A year has passed since then. Our children, unreasonably, have kept on growing. Friends and family members, equally unreasonably, have had sweet-smelling babies. Sometimes, my partner or I might be holding one of those, and look at the other.

Here’s a tip: if you ever find yourself going under the knife, don’t google “cases of consciousness while under anaethesia” the night before, if you want to get any sleep.

“What if...?” the look seems to ask.

And “Why did we...?” comes the unspoken response.

Now here’s my confession: three months after the operation, a vasectomee is meant to submit a semen sample to check that it’s worked.

The clinic gave me a sample-bottle, into which I did my business; only, on the morning I intended to drop it off for analysis, I was so overwhelmed by lunchbox-packing, PE-kit-gathering, tantrum-managing stay-at-home dad duties, that I managed to mislay it. Yes, I mislaid a container of my unambiguous effluence (sealed at least), somewhere in the home.

I’ve looked everywhere since, no joy.

And so my sterilisation, while most likely achieved, is as yet unconfirmed.

Who knows? Maybe I was in that one per cent of anomalies. Our third child could still draw breath, to confound our family plan and reignite our belief in miracles.

More likely, that bottle of goo will turn up just when least expected. If life were a seventies sitcom, the vicar would be round for tea...

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